If 2020 was about responding to COVID-19, what will 2021’s recovery look like?

2020 was a huge challenge for so many of us in so many different ways. As we approach the end of the latest lockdown and we begin to talk about the reopening of society, what is next for the worlds of work and technology?

Last year, most IT managers were tasked with supporting the business in new and unexpected ways. It seemed to many of us that just staying afloat felt like success.

But 2020 was also a time of huge change in IT – collapsing decades of digitalisation initiatives into just twelve short months.

Suddenly, IT managers were expected to work across the business to help transition teams to new ways of working. It’s a phenomenon that Gartner(1) calls “COO by proxy”.

Gartner states, “In 2020, CIOs stepped up to drive digitalisation and worked across the business, instead of focusing strictly on IT, demonstrating a COO mindset”. By 2024, says Gartner, more than 25 percent of CIO roles will be accountable for digital business operations, essentially becoming COOs by proxy.

“COO by proxy” is an opportunity

The rapid response by business and third-sector organisations to the pandemic has inspired many of us working in IT. More than anything, the deployment of technology to support the rapid transition to remote working has demonstrated just how fast digitalisation programmes can successfully be run.

Speak to an IT manager who successfully helped their organisation to weather the storm of the pandemic and you’ll probably find they have got the digitalisation bit firmly between their teeth. While the speed of change is still fresh in the organisational memory, 2021 offers an opportunity to push forward with other planned digitalisation programmes.

In this way, there is an opportunity for organisations not only to build on the momentum established in 2020, but also to secure new competitive advantage that puts them ahead of their peers.

The desire to capitalise on the zeal for transformation

What’s next on your digitalisation journey will really depend on where you are now. Typically, there is a staged process to digitalisation and its associated transition of cloud migration.

Microsoft 365

The bundle of essential office and productivity apps that is Microsoft 365 is many an organisation’s first taste of cloud services. Dispensing with your onsite mail server is a major advantage for most hard-pressed IT managers. If you take advantage of Microsoft’s cloud security tools as part of the migration, you begin to see clearly the benefits of both having Microsoft manage your infrastructure for you and the tools that allows you to deploy.

Thinking about security

Cyber security has to be an ongoing focus for all organisations. Any change to IT provision will need to include a consideration of the cyber security implications. While new digital technologies and cloud computing can offer some advantages from a security point of view, there are challenges too. You’ll need to speak with an experienced cyber security expert to ensure you understand all the pros and cons. And, at the same time, implement solutions so staff are aware of risks and their own responsibilities too.

Implement new digital solutions in the cloud

Most new digital tools are delivered as services from the cloud. Whether its communication tools such as Microsoft Teams, robotic process automation to help you automate routine tasks, or NLP AI chatbots to answer the easiest customer enquiries, you’ll probably find your cloud footprint expanding as you digitalise.

While you gain in efficiencies from the solutions themselves, you add a layer of complexity in terms of cloud orchestration. Choosing a tool to help you manage a hybrid cloud environment is something the Grant McGregor team can help with – reach out to us if you’d like to know more.

Lift and shift existing servers into the cloud

Once you have got a taste of the advantages of cloud with Microsoft 365 or other Software-as-a-Service solutions, the next low hanging fruit is to move server workloads into the cloud. The “lift and shift” approach – of swapping like for like from on-premises to a cloud environment – is the most straightforward way of doing this. Nevertheless, as you migrate, it is important to take the opportunity to rationalise and optimise resources. If you don’t do this as part of the migration, you miss an opportunity to keep your monthly cloud costs as low as possible.

For this reason, it can be well worth getting expert help to review your migration plans before you make the shift. A small outlay here can end up saving you a lot of money over the long term. Again, this is something the Grant McGregor team can help with – so, if you’d like advice, please reach out to our team.

Leverage the new tools available to you

Once you have some workloads running in the cloud, you can begin to explore new opportunities to leverage the data you are storing there. For example, if you have workloads in Microsoft Azure, you might want to consider Power BI to present insights for users. Or, perhaps, some of the more advanced Microsoft Azure data analytics and AI tools.

Manage cloud resources proactively

To keep costs down, you’ll need to adopt a proactive approach to managing your cloud infrastructure – whether that’s something as simple as switching off cloud resources when they aren’t being used to ensuring that you have signed up to the most appropriate pricing models. Make use of online resources to help you do this. There are plenty of tools online to help you understand cloud pricing models, including from the different cloud providers. Automate whatever you can; you’ll need to set up the right policies via your cloud management dashboard. Here, again, seeking expert help to validate your policies and pricing models can pay dividends over the long term.

Go “cloud native”

If you are going to leverage the full list of benefits of a move to the cloud, the long-term goal is to optimise your workloads and apps for the cloud. Moving to cloud native technologies can enable you to eliminate whole layers of technology, gain the benefits of new approaches such as microservices, and be more efficient in your use of compute resources. Less compute power means lower bills and helps your organisation’s green credentials too!

What will 2021’s recovery look like?

Digitalisation and cloud migration are parallel journeys. For many of us, these journeys were fast-tracked by necessity in 2020. The question now remains: what you going to fast-track by choice in 2021?

If you’d like any help or advice about your own digital transformation or cloud migration plans, the Grant McGregor team are on hand to help.

Please reach out to us on 080 164 4142

or book a call here

Sources:

1. https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-10-21-gartner-unveils-top-predictions-for-it-organizations-and-users-in-2021-and-beyond

 

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